As the weather turns dark and the world follows suit, sometimes, you just need a good laugh … and a party.
Directing at Gonzaga for the first time since moving from St. Louis, lecturer Blake Edwards wanted his debut to offer students and audience members a reset of sorts.
William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” seemed like a good place to start. The classic romantic comedy follows four young Athenians through a forest of confusion and fairies until finally all spells are broken and the lovers are reunited with their true counterparts.
“We’ve got students who are coming to a theater department after two years of doing theater on Zoom,” Edwards said. “Everybody’s been trapped in this little box – literally and metaphorically – so, let’s do something big and larger than life … let’s make it feel like a party.
“Once I zeroed in on that, the pieces for the ‘Midsummer’ concept kind of fell into place.”
Set in the wee hours of the morning following Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Edwards’ production leans into the idea that New Orleans is a place where people go to “shake off their inhibitions” and reach beyond “the restrictions of society.”
“We’ve discovered an almost gonzo-style energy in this production that is unlike … many of the versions of ‘Midsummer’ that I’ve seen,” he said. “The cast is doing a great job of just running with it.”
Hoping to create an immersive experience from start to finish, Edwards and the crew decided to bring the New Orleans decorations out of the theater and into the lobby where the Gonzaga Jazz Band will entertain guests before the show.
“We want to create the atmosphere as soon as you walk into the Magnuson,” he said. “Even if it’s just for two hours … we want to transport you to this place.”
Held in the Harry and Colleen Magnuson Theatre located at the east entrance of College Hall, 502 E. Boone Ave, the show opens Friday and continues through Nov. 12.